Pot Compound May Offer “Non-Toxic” Alternative To Chemotherapy

San Francisco, CA:  Administration of the nonpsychoactive cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) inhibits the spread of breast cancer, according to preclinical data published this month in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.


Investigators at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute reported that CBD limits the activity of the breast cancer metastasis gene Id-1.  Researchers noted that CBD down-regulated Id-1 expression in human breast cancer cells more effectively than did the administration of the cannabinoids THC, CBG (cannabigerol), and CBN (cannabinol) and/or the synthetic cannabinoid agonist WIN 55,212-2.


“[Cannabidiol] offers hope of a non-toxic therapy that could [treat aggressive forms of cancer] without any of the painful side effects [of chemotherapy,]” lead researcher Sean McAllister told BBC News.   Investigators added that CBD could potentially moderate the spread of other common forms of cancers, including colon cancer and prostate cancer, by modulating similar pathways.


Researchers at Italy‘s Instuto di Chemica Biomolecolare had previously reported that CBD administration moderated the spread of breast cancer cells by triggering apoptosis (programmed cell death).


Separate studies have demonstrated that cannabinoids can inhibit cancer cell growth in animals and in culture on a wide range of tumoral cell lines – including pancreatic carcinoma and lung carcinoma.


Most recently, investigators at Madrid’s Complutense University, School of Biology, reported in the British Journal of Cancer that THC administration decreases recurrent glioblastoma multiforme (brain) tumor growth in patients diagnosed with the disease.


Previous preclinical trials on CBD have shown the compound to be neuroprotective against alcohol-induced brain damage, stroke, and mad cow disease.


For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at: paul@norml.org.  Full text of the study, “Cannabidiol as a novel inhibitor of Id-1 gene expression in aggressive breast cancer cells,” appears in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.  Additional information regarding cannabinoids and cancer is available in the NORML White paper “Cannabinoids as Cancer Hope,” available online at: